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Network and Computer Crimes

 

The University takes a strong stance on safeguarding private information from unauthorized access and modification as well as protecting systems from denial of service attacks and unauthorized access.

If you feel you are a victim of computer crime, the Behrend Computer Center and Police Services has gathered some information to help you assess the nature of the crime and guide you toward the help you need.  Please explore the contents of this page to determine which method is most appropriate for your situation.   

 

Reporting Incidents of Computer or Peripheral Theft

If you are an on-campus student and have an item that has been stolen, such as a computer, printer, digital camera, software CD, or even research, contact Police Services.  If you are at an off-campus location, contact your local law enforcement agency.

Here are some helpful tips to reduce your chance of being a victim of theft or to help identify and recover your property:

  • Keep all computer hardware and peripherals in a locked room.
  • Use security cables and mounting brackets.
  • Engrave all computer hardware with your state issued operator's license or ID card number.  (You can borrow an engraver from Police Services.)
  • Keep a photographic record of all computer hardware and peripheral devices.

 

Reporting Incidents of Unauthorized Use of Computer Network Resources

Incidents involving Internet or network access using your computer or without your permission, should be reported.  If you are an on-campus resident or you access the Penn State network from off-campus, contact Police Services and/or contact Security Operations and Services at University Park (security@psu.edu or 814-863-9533).  If you do not connect via the Penn State network, but through an Internet Service Provider (ISP), you should contact your local law enforcement agency as well as your ISP.

 

Reporting Incidents of Unauthorized Use of Your Computer

If someone has used your computer and has stolen or deleted files without your authorization, you should report the incident.  On-campus students should report it to Police Services.  Incidents that occur at an off-campus location should be reported to your local law enforcement agency.

Note:  Do not call the Behrend Computer Center for assistance regarding unauthorized use of your computer.  If their resources are required for an investigation, they will be contacted by Police Services, the Office of Security Operations and Services at University Park, or a local law enforcement agency.  

 

Presence of Unauthorized Programs

Unfortunately, it is quite common for computer hackers to install software, viruses, and other malicious content on your PC without your consent.  To help prevent this, be sure to install and run a reputable anti-virus program on your computer.  (And don't forget to obtain automatic updates for it.)  Faculty, staff, and students can obtain free anti-virus and spyware tools from the Penn State downloads web site.  

Here are a few other hints: 

  • Be selective about what files you download from the Internet or transfer to your computer from CD, flash drives, or other media.
  • Be mindful of the attachments that you receive in your email.  Just because a friend sent you something doesn't mean their computer is safe and free of viruses.
  • Install a personal firewall to limit access to your computer from the Internet.  Programs are available as a free download from the Penn State downloads web site.
  • If your anti-virus program discovers a virus, immediately unplug your network connection or disconnect your dial-in modem session.

If you need assistance with the removal of malicious software, resident students may contact the Computer Center's Residence Hall Network Technicians.  Off-campus students can contact a Computer Center help desk.  Faculty and staff should submit the Computer Center's IT Support Request Form to obtain assistance. 

 

Preventing Theft of Electronic Identity

  • Be sure to change all of your passwords frequently (i.e. at least once a semester).  To change your Penn State Access Account password, go to https://www.work.psu.edu.  It is recommended that your password be at least 8 characters long (preferably longer) and contain a mixture of letters, numbers, special symbols, and upper and lowercase characters.  You can also refer to the web site, Password Best Practices, for suggestions on how to create a strong password.
  • Never share passwords with anyone. You are accountable for any actions taken through the fraudulent use of your Penn State Access Account.
  • If you feel the security of a password has been compromised, change the affected password immediately.